DIY Lavender-Infused Vinegar Household Cleaning Spray

I have been cleaning my house with vinegar and baking soda for years. Part of my household cleaning arsenal is a vinegar-infused cleaner. You get the excellent cleaning and deodorizing power of vinegar as well as the fragrant and antibacterial/anti-viral cleaning powers of lavender. Together they create a fantastic household cleaner that can be sprayed directly on counter tops, toilets, light switches, walls, floors, sinks and any other flat surface you want clean and shiny. Continue reading

Lavender-infused vinegar spray is non-toxic, effective and economical. The vinegar scent disappears as the surface dries, leaving behind only a mild lavender scent.

Directions:

  • Crush about 2 cups of fresh lavender buds and leaves in your hand. Put them in a 1 L (quart) jar and pour distilled white vinegar on top. Make sure the lavender is covered. Cap tightly. (You can use dried lavender too.  Use only about 1 cup.)
  • Set aside in a cool, dark location for 2 weeks.
  • Strain lavender-vinegar through a colander to remove bits of lavender.
  • Store vinegar in a mason jar, capped tightly.
  • To use: Fill a spray bottle half full with infused vinegar. Then fill to the top with water.
  • Use as you would any spray cleaner: Spray on and wipe clean.

Enjoy!

Purchase dried lavender buds here.

My Healthy Green Family is a participant in the Mountain Rose Herbs Associates Program and if you make a purchase as a result of clicking on various links on this site, My Healthy Green Family may receive a small portion of that sale at no cost to you. This helps us pay our ever-growing feed bills and our farm animals thank you for your purchase.

This post has been shared on Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways 87From The Farm and Homesteader’s Blog Hop.

Go Greener: Clean Your House With Just Baking Soda, Vinegar and Lemons.

Going green can be a very expensive transition, or it can be cheaper than you’ve ever thought possible.  Green doesn’t have to mean buying all the “eco-friendly” products that are available for twice the price as the nasty stuff.  In fact, a lot of those “eco-friendly” products, when you read the labels and figure out what is actually in those products, are not very natural at all.  They may not contain phosphates or chlorine bleach etc., but they contain a lot of other ingredients that are not so great.  Especially when you can get a good clean with a few cheap ingredients that are readily available.  And, when your little helper wants to help you clean, you can comfortably and safely hand her a spray bottle of lemon-infused vinegar and a rag.

So lets go greener than green-cleaning products.  Lets make our own out of simple, economical ingredients.

I clean my entire house with a spray bottle of lemon-infused vinegar water, with plain vinegar and with baking soda.

Lemon-infused vinegar, also known as citrus vinegar, is simply a jar of lemon (or other citrus) rinds soaked for 2 weeks in white distilled vinegar. You can check out a DIY tutorial for it here.  Strain, dilute to a 1:1 ratio of citrus vinegar to water, and pour into a clean, empty spray bottle.  Lemons and vinegar both cut grease and grime, break down soap scum, and leave surfaces shiny and clean.  The acidity of both kills germs, making them perfect for a bathroom cleaner, a kitchen counter cleaner, and pretty much any kind of cleaner.

Distilled white vinegar.  Vinegar diluted 1:1 with water in a spray bottle is perfect for cleaning mirrors and windows.

Baking soda.  Baking soda is perfect for lifting grease, soap scum and grime.  Baking soda is also a great deodorizer.

Lemons.  Lemons can be used to clean a lot of surfaces. The acidity naturally kills germs and the fresh smell of lemons is pleasant.

Baking soda and vinegar.  When you add baking soda, a base, to vinegar, an acid, you neutralize the two of them and basically render both useless.  I have read a lot of articles talking about combining the two to clean toilets etc.  While the volcano-like explosion is pretty cool, in most cases it doesn’t actually achieve much since you have effectively created a neutral product.

How to Clean Your Kitchen:

Counter tops: Lemon-infused vinegar spray cuts grease and kills germs.  Simply spray on and wipe down with a clean rag.
Kitchen sinks: Lemon-infused vinegar spray works well, or if it is extra dirtly, sprinkle with baking soda and scrub clean with a scrub brush.  Alternatively, you can use a lemon that has been juiced, to scrub your sink with.  Rinse clean.
Stove tops: Lemon-infused vinegar spray will cut the grease.  To help with burnt bits, make a baking soda paste with a bit of water, smear on, let sit for 30 minutes, then wipe clean.
Floor: Hot water with a splash of vinegar will make laminate, tile and linoleum sparkle, leaving no build-up.
Fridge: Spray down with lemon-infused citrus spray, then wipe clean.  Leave an open box of baking soda in the fridge to absorb food odors.  Replace the box every few months.
Microwave: Heat up a small bowl of 1 cup vinegar for about 4 minutes.  The vinegar and steam loosen the grime and make it easy to wipe clean with a rag.  You can also use lemon juice the same way, with the same results.
Stove fan filters: Bring water to boil in a large pan.  Add 1/4 c. baking soda and mix well.  Soak fan filters in it for 1 minute, then turn over, soak for 1 more minute, then remove and rinse.
Dishwasher: Add white vinegar to the rinse compartment of your dishwasher to help prevent buildup on your dishes.
Cutting boards:  Clean stains and germs off of your cutting board by squeezing a lemon on the board and allowing it to sit for 30 minutes.  Scrub clean.

How To Clean Your Bathroom:

Bath tub and shower stall: Scrub bathtub with a baking soda paste and a scrub brush.  The baking soda cuts soap scum and grease off the tub and walls beautifully.  Rinse clean.
Toilet: Sprinkle baking soda in the toilet and scrub clean with toilet brush.  Clean toilet seat, lid, and around base of toilet with lemon-infused vinegar spray.  Wipe dry.
Sink: Scrub sink clean with a baking soda paste and and a scrub brush.  Clean chrome or stainless steel with lemon-infused vinegar spray.
Mirrors: Plain white vinegar in a spray bottle, diluted 1:1 with water does the best job of cleaning mirrors.
Floors: Hot water with a splash of vinegar will keep bathroom floors clean and sparkly.

Cleaning Other Areas:

Floors: Hot water with a splash of vinegar will clean all floor surfaces beautifully.
Walls: Lemon-infused vinegar spray cleans walls beautifully.
Windows: Plain vinegar in a spray bottle diluted 1:1 with water.
Dusting: Spray your duster very lightly with lemon-infused vinegar to replace products like Pledge.
Carpets: to deodorize a carpet, sprinkle generously with baking soda, leave for 30 minutes, then vaccuum up.
Mattresses: To deodorize urine or vomit stains sprinkle with baking soda, leave for 30 minutes, then vaccuum.  For fresh, wet stains, scrub with white vinegar and rinse with clean water.  Test fabric first.
Laundry: lemon juice, placed directly on grease stains on fabric, and left to sit for 30 minutes, can lift the stain.  Vinegar, poured directly on tomato-based fabric stains, can remove the stain.  Test your fabric first.
Tile grout: Lemon juice and an old tooth brush will bleach tile grout clean.
Drains: One case in which baking soda and vinegar combined can work is with a clogged drain.  Since the physical “explosion” can actually move things around, you can unclog a drain with it.  Pour a cup of dry baking soda down the drain.  Add a cup of vinegar.  Immediately plug with a rag and leave for 30 minutes.  Rinse down the concoction with boiling water and you may have success if the conditions are right.

So forget the bottles of fancy green cleaners.  Ignore the eco-friendly advertising.  Save  your money, save your family’s health, and go greener!  Make your own cleaners with baking soda, vinegar and lemons.  So easy, so cheap and so effective!  Please share any other cleaning methods you might know using baking soda, vinegar and lemons!

You might also enjoy reading about my homemade dish-washing detergent, my homemade laundry detergent, my DIY deodorant recipe and how my entire family’s hair is safely and perfectly cleaned with baking soda (wash) and vinegar (rinse).  All of these recipes use some of the above ingredients as well as a few others.

 

This post has been linked to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #64Waste Not Want Not Wednesday #16 , Seasonal Celebration Wednesday, Get Real Frugal Friday Blog Hop #5 and Homestead Abundance #8.

 

 

 

 

The Best Butter Tarts Recipe From Sratch.

My all time favorite treat as a child was butter tarts.  My mom made them at Christmas and I soon learned how to make them for my own family.  There is something about the sweet, chewy raisin centres that are to die for.

 

Crust

(Makes enough for 3 pies so you can freeze what you don’t use, or half the recipe)

  • 4.5 c. white flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten lightly
  • 1 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 lb. butter or lard

Directions for crust:

  1. Mix first 3 ingredients well.
  2. Combine egg, vinegar and 1 c. cold water in a glass measuring cup.  Mix well.
  3. Cut butter or lard into dry mixture with pastry cutter until pieces are pea-sized.
  4. Add water mixture, a bit at a time, while tossing with a fork, until dough will form a ball.
  5. Kneed a few times to make a ball.  Roll out half of the dough to about 1/4 inch thick or thinner, as preferred.  Cut into circles with large round cookie cutter or wide mouth mason lid.
  6. Press dough carefully and evenly into un-greased muffin tin.
  7. Freeze extra dough for another day.

Tart Filling:

  • 1 c. raisins
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 c. melted butter

Directions for filling the tart shells:

  1. Combine and mix tart filling ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Spoon the filling into the tart shells, about 3/4 full.
  3. Bake at 375F for 15-17 min.
  4. Allow to cool in muffin tin for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from tins carefully and cool fully.

This post has been linked to Farm Girl Friday Blog Fest #14.

1 jar a week dill pickle recipe for small scale gardeners.

Pickling cucumbers are produced on a small vine that grows easily and happily in containers, small spaces, or up trellises.  It stands to reason, then, that they are great for small gardens, including container gardens.  If you have several vines growing up an arbour, or in a small garden plot, you’ll get pickling cucumbers alright, but not many at a time.  Fortunately that doesn’t matter.  Pickling cucumbers can be stored for up to a week in the fridge, and you can make 1 jar a week if that’s all the cucumbers you get from your plants.  Your plants may produce for up to a month or even more, and you can slowly preserve your own pickles by following this method.

Collecting your cucumbers:

Collect your pickling cucumbers each day (even if there is only 1 a day!) at the appropriate size.  Wash them carefully, removing stems, dried flower bits, dirt and spines.  Spines come off easily just by rubbing them with your hands.  Store them in an airtight container or a sealed plastic bag with a damp, clean rag.  The rag will keep the cucumbers fresh longer.  Your cucumbers will last up to a week in the bag.  Keep adding to it during the week.

Collecting and storing dill:

Harvest your dill whenever it is ready.  (Or buy it).  You need the flowering heads as well as the green hairy bits on the stem.  Rinse the dill, fold it carefully and store in a zip lock bag in the freezer.  It will last for many months this way, and can be pulled out and used for your pickles at any time.

Once you have enough to make one jar of pickles, using the recipe below, prepare your brine.  The brine can be kept in the fridge in jars with good lids for months as well.

Brine:

Bring to a boil and keep simmering

  • 1 quart pickling or white vinegar
  • ¾ cup of pickling salt (don’t use table salt which will soften the pickles)
  • 3 quarts boiling water

Directions:

  1. Place one peeled clove of garlic in the jar.
  2. Put in a head of fresh or frozen dill, and a few hairy bits as well.
  3. Fill your jar with pickling cucumbers.
  4.  Add another head of dill, leaving an inch of space at the top.
  5. Fill the jar with hot brine, leaving one inch of head space in your jar.
  6. Wipe down jar rim and neck with a clean cloth.
  7. Put on prepared lid and ring.  Set aside.
  8. Cool your brine and refrigerate.
  9. Place jar in a canner with water covering the lid.  Heat water to a boil.  Boil jar in a canner for 10 minutes.   Turn off heat.  Don’t remove jar until water has stopped boiling.   Remove jar and cool on wire rack.

Every week fill another jar!  Super easy, and a great way to have your own home-grown pickles even when you don’t have a big garden.

Notes:

  • Only use pickling cucumbers.  Regular or long English cucumbers get mushy when they are pickled.
  • Make sure your brine is boiling and your jars and lids are hot.
  • Allow your pickles to “pickle” for 3-4 weeks before eating.  They won’t taste good until then!
  • You can use this recipe to pickle beans and carrots too!

This post has been shared on From The Farm Blog Hop #42.

 

Homemade Borax-Free Dishwasher Detergent

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I have tried many different “eco-friendly” dishwasher detergents over the years.  From 7th Generation to Ecos, Method to Ecover, I just couldn’t find one that worked very well.  And with a price as high as those, I certainly wanted something that worked.

Eventually I came across a recipe to make my own dishwasher detergent.  It contained washing soda, borax, salt and citric acid.  It worked… somewhat.  I wasn’t satisfied with the results and neither was I satisfied with the ingredient Borax.  I am not convinced Borax is safe, especially when used on eating utensils etc.  After discussing the homemade recipe with some others, the thought came up “what if we just removed the Borax?”  So when I ran out of my detergent I did just that.  I removed the Borax.   I also added white distilled vinegar as a rinse aid.  The combination provides great results!!

So here is my borax-free dishwasher detergent recipe:

  • 1 cup washing soda (old recipe used  baking soda)
  • 1/4 c. citric acid
  • 1/4 c. coarse salt
  • 10-15 drops of citrus essential oil (Optional.  Orange, grapefruit, or lemon essential oils have great cleaning as well as antibacterial properties.)
  • Distilled white vinegar (in the rinse aid compartment)

Mix first 3 ingredients well in an air tight container. Add essential oil.  Mix again.  Fill your rinse aid compartment with undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Use 1 tsp. detergent for average loads.
Use 1 tbsp. detergent for extra greasy, dirty loads.

UPDATE:  More is not better!  If you are having any build up issues use less! 

Where to find ingredients:
Citric acid is easily purchased in bulk at  U-Brew  stores.  You may find it at grocery stores near the canning supplies, or in the bulk section.  You can also buy it at Mountain Rose Herbs Co.   Some people use plain, uncolored koolaid and get the same effects.  (Make sure you use the colorless koolaid or you will dye your dishwasher!) This is because koolaid is very high in citric acid.  I don’t like the other ingredients in koolaid though so I choose not to use it.  Lemi Shine is also sometimes used to replace citric acid.  I feel the same way about lemi shine as I do about koolaid.
Coarse salt: same as pickling salt.  Found in most grocery stores or purchase coarse sea salt online at Mountain Rose Herbs.  Don’t use regular table salt because of the iodine content.
Baking Soda: We all know where to find it!
Essential Oil: Found in most natural food stores or online at Mountain Rose Herbs.
Tips:

  • I rinse off my dishes reasonably well ever since I switched to chemical-free dishwasher detergents.  Rinsing off grease and baked-on food will help any cleaner, not just a homemade one.
  • Hard water: I don’t know if this would work in hard water or not because my water is soft.  However, my own research indicates that citric acid is often used in addition to regular dishwasher detergents to help prevent mineral deposits on the dishes.  Try it out and let me know!
  • I placed one glass in the dishwasher and left it in for many loads as my tester.  I have done over 30 loads with this recipe to date.

Cost: (based on Mountain Rose Herbs prices)
5 lb. of citric acid is $20.
5 lb. of baking soda is $11.75.
5 lb. of coarse sea salt is $15.
Essential oil (optional) varies in price..

Is it worth it to make your own?
Based on the prices above (not including essential oils), and the fact that there are 36 tbsp. of sugar in a lb. (similar texture and weight to this detergent), I worked this detergent out to cost $0.08 a load. 

7th Generation dishwashing tabs (about 1 tbsp. each) are $6.99 for 20. (based on online price from London Drugs)  So 7th Generation dishwashing tabs cost $0.35 cents a load.   

You’ll be saving a lot of money (not to mention your health and the environment) by making your own eco-friendly detergent.

This post has been linked to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #25, Simple Living Wednesday, Homestead Helps Wednesday #5, Homestead Revival Barn Hop #61MorrisTribe’s Homesteading Blog Carnival #6, Whole Foods Wednesday #56 and  Fat Tuesday.